Phenol Prices, markets & analysis
For those looking to keep abreast of the global Phenol market, our independent, unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis is an invaluable resource.
Whether you buy or sell Phenol or related products, you need to know about the prices and the factors driving the prices in the global Phenol market as they happen. Our network of price reporters throughout Asia, Europe and the US provide key local insights. We collate this intelligence into daily and weekly price reports, ensuring you have the up-to-date information you need at all times.
Phenol Overview Transcript
The global phenol market is structurally short and will remain so until new capacities starts to come on stream in Asia over the next few years.
Demand for phenol derivatives is set to remain steady in Europe, Asia and the US. This is because demand in downstream markets such as bisphenol A, caprolactam, adipic acid and phenolic resins is likely to remain subdued in the near term.
Global economic uncertainty and slow growth in developed markets will play their parts to aid stability. There is some concern over the supply of cumene, an upstream chemical, which may itself become short, tightening supply.
The other challenges facing the market for phenol are sharp fluctuations in the benzene price which can be hard to pass on to consumers in downstream markets where prices are negotiated rather than set on a formula basis.
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Phenol news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Phenol analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Phenol marketplace.
Price Reporting – More information about the price reports we publish on Phenol
Independent price assessments and market coverage by region
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Phenol: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2015
European phenol availability is expected to improve as domestic suppliers return to the market after force majeures. The market is expected to be balanced with other suppliers cutting operating rates to manage profitability. Contract prices are linked to raw material benzene costs, with producers’ attempts to increase adders in the third quarter (Q3) so far stalling. Exports are expected to be limited given low Asian prices, although sizeable imports are also unlikely given tricky logistics.
The US phenol market is adjusting to the absence of phenol/acetone producer Haverhill Chemicals, which announced in June that it would suspend operations. The company’s closure of its Ohio facility is expected to boost domestic plant operating rates by an average of 10% beginning in the third quarter. Haverhill’s departure is a source of optimism for remaining producers, who have faced relatively flat demand, long supply and weak margins as the price of upstream benzene has fallen.
Asian phenol producers will need to contend with lower profitability in the third quarter because domestic capacity expansion has reduced demand for imports into China, Asia’s largest market. Three new plants with a combined phenol capacity of 800,000 tonnes/year were started up in China between December 2014 and May 2015. Since June, Chinese phenol makers have been grappling with negative margins stemming from the surge in supply. The supply-driven fall in Chinese prices also weighed on the prices of phenol into India, the second largest import market in Asia.
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Phenol occurs as colourless to yellow crystals, with a characteristic carbolic odour which turns pink on exposure to light and air. It is strongly hydroscopic, liquefying in moist air. It is moderately dissolvable in water, but very soluble in ether, methyl and ethyl alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, acetic acid, glycerol, benzene and chlorinated hydrocarbons. The solution in water is a weak acid.
The main chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol are bisphenol-A (BPA) used to make polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins, phenolic resins, caprolactam, alkylphenols, aniline and adipic acid. The largest market for phenol is BPA followed by phenolic resins.
Cumene-based technology is the dominant process to produce phenol. Here, benzene and propylene are reacted to form cumene, which is oxidised to the hydroperoxide, followed by acid-catalysed cleavage to yield phenol and acetone.